One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: a termite. Now: specifically a termite of the subfamily Termitinae, typically having highly adapted jaws in the soldier caste.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of termites, specifically those of the subfamily Termitinae.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Edward Blyth (1810–1873), zoologist. From termite + -ine, after French termitines, plural noun, itself after scientific Latin Termitina, subfamily name (P.-A. Latreille Hist. nat. gén. et partic. des insectes et crustacées III. 293; later changed to Termitinae.
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